October dis•articulation poem — Terry Wolverton

For our collaboration, Terry gave collaborating poet Ramón Garcia four writing prompts. Ramón engaged in fevered writing with each of them and gave the results back to Terry, who then used the words from that fevered writing to create this dis•articulations poem.


Gertrude Stein comes back from the dead
to ask what it is like without you.
Is she the ghost, or is it me?
Words ring out from the black sky
of her face, sound like a song
telling the geography of death,
a place beyond the thousand walls.

Einstein comes back with a black cat;
I ask him its name. He says
her name is Michiko and she comes
from the gutters of the after life.
Her language is unknown to some
but when I sound out the rhythms,
I know she is calling for help.

Without you I am without the root.
The beach is ghostly. There’s a hole
in the sky that weighs on me.
People say let her be, but I cannot.
Beyond the mask I have no face,
only the songs I will never write.
Of all the names, I call just one.


October dis•articulations poems — Ramón Garcia

For our dis•articulations collaboration, Ramón gave Terry four writing prompts. Terry engaged in fevered writing with each of them and gave the results back to Ramón, who then used the words from that fevered writing to create four dis•articulations poems.

The night can die
A thousand deaths
Other’s slaughter   who believe
House   dispute
Ancient feud—ancestor night
Stagger, rise, succumb
To fire or gossip

Recovery craze          tripping
My partner    out
Bandstand vomit
Shoes make moves
Shiny looking             love tutu
Smile               over music breaking

Make it           brain engineer
Being brain
Haywire food
Ingest delayed
Remain solitary brain
Up to our hormones

Awareness of Bloom
Plants sense
Another plant in trouble
Shoots in the plant’s direction
Sentient blow                        pathetic theories
Around the mess

October Fevered Writing — Terry Wolverton

Terry Wolverton produced this fevered writing  based on four prompts given her by this month’s collaborating poet, Ramón Garcia. Ramón will be writing a new poem incorporating his choice of these words.

No on can be slain in absentia or in effigie.
I disagree. The night is long and one can die a thousand deaths at the hands of others’ imaginations. How they slaughter me–those who believe I have wronged them and those who envy something in my house, those who dispute my politics and those who have an ancient feud with my ancestors. All night long, I stagger and fall, rise again only to succumb to poison or bullets, fire or gossip. I am slain.

These first three steps are the acceptance steps.
The recovery cha-cha is a new dance craze but I am tripping over my feet again, stumbling across the floor, looking for my partner who is passed out on the bandstand. Her vomit cakes my new shoes, but still I make the moves–one-two-three and one-two-three, and my nose is shiny with the effort and no one is looking at me. I used to love to dance, a little girl in a tutu and everyone would smile but those days are over and now the music sounds like a machine that’s breaking.

Narcissus, the solitary, is the very image of the adolescent.
Why would they make it take so long before our brains develop? Why would someone engineer a being who was capable of reproducing long before its brain could make a good decision? Has something gone haywire with the food we eat or the water we drink or the chemicals we ingest? Are we developmentally delayed? Maybe we need to remain solitary until our brain catches up to our hormones.

Bloom is aware of conspicuous omissions.
What is the awareness of a bloom? Science tells us plants sense when another plant is in trouble and they send out shoots in that plant’s direction. They try to help. This means plants are sentient, another blow to our pathetic theories of superiority. Plants will be around to clean up the mess after we blow it all up.

Readers who are contemplating writing your own poems may work with just the prompts or choose to use one or more passages of fevered writing to inspire your poems. Best Reader poem we receive in October will win a $25 prize.

October Fevered Writing — Ramón Garcia

This month’s collaborating poet, Ramón Garcia, produced this fevered writing based on four prompts given by Terry Wolverton. Terry will be writing a new poem incorporating her choice of these words.

Don’t say his name (Los Angeles Times)
Don’t say his name, say his mask.
Say his other name, the one that is not him, the name that is her.
Don’t say his name, say his face, his thousand faces.
Say what is not his name, his other name.
Don’t say what is not his name, say what is.
Don’t say his name, say Gertrude Stein.
Say this and say that but don’t say I didn’t tell you his name.
Say this name not that name, say it’s his and not a name.
Say all names and say his, but don’t say his name.
Say all that is his, his name and his not name.
Say his name, but don’t.
Say it, say his name and not his name, his mask and his face.

I never thought Michiko would come back
after she died. (“Alone” by Jack Gilbert, Poetry)
I never thought Michiko would come back after she did. But why not? People die and people come back. They’re called ghosts. They are called Michiko. To come back one must be dead, but who said so? Maybe Michiko said so, that’s why she died and came back as a ghost. Or maybe it was not a ghost just someone who comes back. After death, maybe it’s all a coming back to something. To a something called Michiko. I like the sound of the name and therefore it’s ghostly, beyond life, which is rhythm, which is language.

Einstein ring helps weigh a black hole (Earthsky.org)
Einstein ring helps weigh a black what? A black hole. A black hole in the wall. A black ring? What is an Einstein ring? Don’t’ ask me because I don’t know. I only know that it’s black and it’s a whole cause that’s what the saying says, that’s what the Earthsky says. What I say when I say what I write. This sounds like Einstein on the Beach, and it might be. But what beach, what Einstein, what sky? Why? Why sky? Why Einstein, which Einstein?

Live from the Gutter (song title, from What a Time to Be Alive, Drake and Future
Live from my Gutter. Live from what Gutter? Is Gutter a place, a geography? Or is it a state of being? Can it be a state of being, a Gutter. Can it be the name of a person or a cat? Gutter. It has a name ring to it. It has a song written into it. It has something to ring a song into it’s Gutter. Into it, it’s something and it’s alive. It’s alive to what is gutter. To what is guttering. To what is a song and what is Gutter. Guttersnipe. What is a guttersnipe? I really don’t know. Is it a song? An unknown song, and is Gutter the root word of a gutter word? I don’t know. It’s a song. Let it be in the gutter, without capitalizing a gutter, a Gutter. It’s alive, it’s live and black and it’s a hole. It’s a sky and it’s a Gutter. Help.

Readers who are contemplating writing your own poems may work with just the prompts or choose to use one or more passages of fevered writing to inspire your poems. Best Reader poem we receive in October will win a $25 prize.

Reader Poem — Jennifer Hernandez

Jennifer Hernandez wrote this poem in response to the October Poetry Prompts:

I never thought Michiko would come back
after she died

Bobbed hair glistening black,
pedicure blood red. Some ghost. Five inches
of air between the stoop and her Jimmy Choo’s
gave her away. “Hey, Michi-chan,” I croaked,
“What’cha doing back here?? I thought –”
“Don’t say his name,” she warned, her raspy
voice from inside a black hole. Talk about
conspicuous omission. He was the reason
for this strange encounter, Michiko hovering
over the front steps and me sprawled out
in the gutter, blood and sewage a-swirl.

He couldn’t stand our friendship, always
wanted Michiko for himself. Ironic,
self-absorbed as he was. I told her
to dump him. He was too into himself.
Would never care about anyone else.
The first three steps are the acceptance
steps, they say, but Michi-chan wasn’t
interested in acceptance. She was interested
in revenge, and since no one can be slain
in absentia, she planned to find him
and drown him. In his own reflection.

Reader Poem — Shloka Shankar

Shloka Shankar wrote this poem in response to the October Poetry Prompts:


She looked at me
with sad, hurtful eyes

almost half-wishing that
I hadn’t said his name.

A death-like silence,
just enough to

weigh a
black hole the size

of my fist
balked about in

in absentia.

Reader Poem — Liz Belile

Liz Belile drew her inspiration from the October Poetry Prompts to write this poem:

When you call for the Dead
Don’t say his name
A father curled up in bed
skinny as a hound or
Christ on the cross
A boy in full flower
head thrown back laugh
knuckles green with morning glory
I wake up in sweat
I turn like a cyclone in my too-small sheets
the phone vibrates
I don’t know the number
so I pick up & pray
Don’t say his name
The bullet dodged
the ship I grazed
while at sea
the one who got away
with it
when I thought
the chamber was hollow
buried me in a shallow rut
that one
Don’t say his name
There is a god
so dark and unknown
unwilling to enunciate he drowns us all
in his muck
Don’t say his name
When they fuck
and all she can think of
the piercing blue
or the wolf scent
of the other
Don’t say his name
You can call me
tumble me in your open air
but when it all comes down
and the awards are handed over
Don’t say his name

Reader Poem — Charles W. Brice

Charles W. Brice wrote this poem in response to the October Poetry Prompts:

I Wrote Your Name in the Lake

then my name,
our son’s name,
our daughter’s name,
then the universe’s name,
then god’s name
in the lake. I swam

in our names, dove
below and felt how cool
our names were, how fresh
when our surface cracked.

I wrote your name on the brow
of your budded green profusion,
the leaf you became
stout, proud, frim—
how you trembled.
The season you had was grand
then gilded, crinkled, beldame,
you dropped
weary winds
blown undisclosed

I breathed your name
over snail, slug, toad and turtle
their days spent
from spore to tadpole to crick scum
the abundance of life
in your name
in every writhing arroyo
of your body.

Reader Poem — BC Petrakos

BC Petrakos wrote this poem in response to the October Poetry Prompts:

These first three Steps are the acceptance Steps

The first breath
Without your mothers help
A cry really
A wail with eyes closed
Begins the first fight

Then when you say
“No! ” For the first time
And everybody laughs

Then your first rejection
Followed by more
Then disapointment
One after the other
Then Grief
In time the realization
You have lost the energy to fight
It is that time
acceptance comes

These first three Steps are the acceptance Steps
But they come at the end of the battle
To belong..to be understood..to be loved

Are these the first steps to peace
Which is more comfortable
Than one would imagine

Reader Poem — Daniel De Culla

Daniel De Culla wrote this poem inspired by the October Poetry Prompts:


He dreams the first Lovers’Tattoo
Throwing up Venus’ Mountain
From his girl friend
-Oh, a man penetrating her tattoo
He thinked
Trying to get closer to dome
Kissing her labial lips
As bees the flowers with sun.
When he moved into the vulva
The scene dissolved
Like a little volcano
Cold for as long
As then suddenly
And tattoo back off.
-Here is where we are born
She said.